Since the early 1200’s the Tower of London has been home to more than monarchs, lords and prisoners. Keeping exotic animals at the tower became a tradition started by King John in 1210. Everything from lions to tigers to bears, oh my, have been kept in and around the tower grounds. Today not much remains of the fantastic menagerie except a few trained crows and metal statues where the real beasts once stood, but the stone walls pulse with the history that they have seen.
A little while back I was working on a paper for a linguistic anthropology class and I reached out to some zoo keepers on Facebook to ask them what some terms were that applied (or had meanings specifically) to zoo keeping. These are some of the terms that they came up with! I provided the definitions. Now keep in mind that every zoo does things just a little bit differently, so don’t be offended if a definition is different from one you may use, just leave it in the comments!
The southern ground hornbill is the largest species of hornbill bird and can be found naturally across the savannas of Africa. These birds are listed as vulnerable, according to the IUCN Red List, but studies done in South Africa suggest they could be in much worse trouble than scientists previously thought. Their habitat is being cleared for farmland and these birds are dying off.
I got to meet up with lead okapi keeper Megan Lumpkin at the Dallas Zoo last week and she told me all about the DZ’s leading okapi breeding program! She was so nice and welcoming and let me see the DZ’s new baby okapi and the process by which they weigh her every morning and I even got to meet their oldest okapi and give her a good ear scratching!
As my study abroad plans to spend a semester in Costa Rica fell through I had to begin looking for an apartment back in Dallas. I was not thrilled because, as much as SMU has done for me, for a while it wasn’t my favorite place. I probably shouldn’t have chosen a school known for business and not at all for science, but at the time I was desperate to get away from Florida for a little while. But my plans of transferring were not looking bright and I was hoping to find a ray of sunshine to make my stay in Dallas more appealing. Enter, the Dallas Zoo.
Costa Rica’s motto is pura vida which means pure life. They have been ranked the third greenest country in the world time and time again by Yale’s Environmental Performance Index or EPI. When looking to travel through Costa Rica, eco-lodges and environmental tourist destinations are everywhere. The country has planted well over 5 million trees in the last five years, this previously third world country is now leading the environmental example for countries everywhere. While trying to uphold their green status the government has recently decided that the best way to experience wildlife is through national parks, where nature can be enjoyed naturally. This has lead to the closure of the two public zoos and the relocation of the residents to animal sanctuaries, where the native animals will hopefully be released back into the wild.
I actually got an unpaid internship at a zoo! That about sums up the phone call my poor father got after I was accepted into the intern program at the Palm Beach Zoo. I was over the moon and his mild shock couldn’t change it. I think that my parents had known all along that I wouldn’t end up being a doctor. I just couldn’t stay away from those animals! After spending an entire school year choosing to wake up early and shovel tiger crap instead of stay out late at parties I was now choosing to seal my fate in the zoo world.
India is the fourth country to ban keeping cetaceans in captivity, behind Costa Rica, Hungary and Chile. Dolphins and other cetaceans have long been kept as a source of entertainment and guaranteed income in zoos and theme parks alike. But knowing what we know now about cetacean intelligence, is that really the right thing to do?
I’ll say it. I have now decided to give myself the title ‘former zookeeper’ because the more I examine zoo’s and the way they operate the less I am satisfied. Most zoos put their animals first, most zoos put most of their animals first, but really, I’ve learned that its a department to department kind of thing. I’ve seen departments who really value and I’ve seen places that are more likely to put the people’s experience before their animals welfare.
I am sure you have heard me preach about the evils of palm oil, again and again, but if you’ve actually tried to shop for products without palm oil you’ve probably found that you’re going without a lot of your normal snacks. It sucks! Goodness, I’ve missed popcorn, but now theres a way to find who is using sustainable palm oil!